Mostly bare Camellia

happyinthedirtJuly 8, 2011

Camellias are not something I know much about and my research has not been very fruitful. My mother has a about a 3'x3' camellias bush in her front bed. 1.5 years ago she got sick and for the next year or so the camellia, along with everything else, was neglected. It is now mostly bare with a few green leaves only at the end of each branch and then a little (very little) new growth at the very base. Last year, not sure when, I tried trimming it up a bit and getting rid of dead wood, but I was afraid to go very far. I suspected it had been way too dry so I start watering it more, but I am sure it is not overwatered. I threw down some azalea fertilizer at the same time. Nothing happened. Its not dead, but it won't grow or leaf out! It looks awful! Will it leaf out in the middle without a heavy pruning? How often and when do camellias put out new leaves. Does anyone know what my problem might be? Since they are slow growing, how long do you give it before you know that what your doing isn't working???? We are in the DFW area.

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Sounds like irregular watering.

I have never measured the time it takes to leaf out but it would be several weeks at the least. However, if I was a plant in Texas, I would be too stressed with the hot temperatures and little humidity. I am not sure if the plant will try to leaf out now or wait until later or what. But as long as it has a few leaves, that is a good sign.

I would be concerned if there were no leaves now; in that case, I would still wait until April-May 2012 looking for signs of leaf out in Spring.

For stressed out camellias, maintain the soil constantly moist (no periods of dry soil, then wet soil then dry soil again), never fertilize while stressed and keep 3-4" of mulch at all times... up to the drip line. Then wait. The normal leaf out time is in Spring.

The finger method might help control soil moisture. Insert a finger to a depth 4" into the soil and determine how the soil feels. If it feels almost dry or dry then water. If it feels moist or wet, do not water.

To set up a watering program, use the finger method daily, early in the mornings, for two weeks. Every time that you need to water, make a note in a wall calendar. After two weeks, review the notes on the wall calendar and determine how often you had to water: every 2 days, every 3 days, etc. Then set your sprinkler system to water 1 gallon of water on that same watering frequency. If the temperatures change by 10-15 degrees and stay there, feel free to use the finger method again to check the soil moisture.


PS - Check the soil pH nowadays too. I sometimes have to acidify it in July-August.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 11:21PM
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Luis: Thanks so much for the post. I really suspect you are right. We have been way to preoccupied this last year! But I walked out today and took a closer look and it appears I have some new growth!! WOOHOO. I had been making more effort to water it lately so that lends to your theory. Thx so much...I needed some confirmation. I fancy myself a gardener, but I know nothing about camellias. So I guess that stuff about established camellias not being too picky is not true in the Texas heat.:) Hey, BTW, how can I get my zone to show up in my posting identification like yours does? Thx

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 2:41AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you will see a bunch of links you can use like so:

Join : Garden Forums : Home Forums : Exchanges & Trading : Member Pages : Contact Us

Provided you are logged on already, click on the one that says "Member Pages", click on the one that says "Edit Your Personal Information, Page, and Preferences".

Complete the one field titled "Garden Zone" and review the other fields. Fill them out as you deem appropriate. When done, scroll to the bottom and click on "Save Your Member Profile".

I would not show email address or supply (ie, leave blank) the first name, last name and birthday information. That is not necessary.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 2:47AM
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